Full-strength India ready for pepped-up Bangladesh
May 17, 2007 - 12:56:58 PM
Chittagong, May 17 - For the first time in their seven-year Test history, a confident Bangladesh will hope to be competitive against a full-strength India in the first Test match starting here Friday.
Drawing confidence from their recent performances, especially in the World Cup last month, Bangladesh will attempt to capitalise on the local conditions and spectator support in this port city.
Bangladesh have never won a Test match in their history. They have managed to draw only four matches out of 44 played since making their debut in 2000 against India in Dhaka.
India have played only three Tests so far against Bangladesh and won all of them.
But their stunning wins over India and South Africa in the World Cup in the West Indies have boosted Bangladesh's morale sky high and the players today are more confident than before.
It is, however, pertinent to note that those wins came in over-specific matches, while the Bangladeshi players still do not seem to posses the wherewithal to take 20 opposition wickets in a Test, in other words bowl them out twice in five days, or play long innings.
Habibul Bashar's boys are essentially stroke players. However, they are learning fast and improving. If they play a few more Test matches they would improve rapidly.
Bangladesh's problems could increase as Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly, who were ignored for the just concluded One-day International series that India won 2-0, have joined the team along with V.V.S. Laxman and Wasim Jaffer, Anil Kumble, Vikram Raj Vir Singh and Rajesh Pawar.
Pawar, a left-arm spinner, is the only player in the squad who has not played a Test.
The addition of these players has given strength to an Indian team that had looked far superior in the rain-marred ODI series -. India's batting is their main strength and captain Rahul Dravid will look up to his batsmen to contribute handsomely towards the team total.
There could, however, be a selection problem for the Indian opening pair as there is only one specialist opener in Jaffer in the 15-member squad.
Dravid has opened successfully in the past and if he does that role again, it will give him more flexibility in picking the XI.
In the bowling department, Kumble, India's highest wicket taker in Tests, is the most experienced player and he will look to quickly grab three wickets that would take him to 550-wicket mark.
Left-arm Zaheer Khan is the pace spearhead and would have Munaf Patel and possibly one more pacer for company in a match that is likely to be dominated by spinners. Off-spinner Ramesh Powar could be the other spinner in the XI besides Kumble.
All in all, the Indian team looks far stronger than Bangladesh, and Dravid, who also led the team in a forgettable World Cup, has already said that the home side's lack of experience in Test cricket could prove their handicap.
Experienced Bashar will be the key for Bangladesh's batting with vice-captain Mohammad Ashraful, Shahriar Nafees-subject to selection as he has been out of form lately-Javed Omer and wicket-keeper Khaled Mashud, the most experienced player in the team, lending support.
Bangladesh all-rounder Sakibul Hasan, an exciting left-handed batsman, could make his debut Friday.
The bowling department will rely heavily on pacers Mashrafe Mortaza and the spin attack will be led by left-armers Mohammed Rafique and Enamul Haque - and off-spinner Rajin Saleh.
India: Rahul Dravid -, Wasim Jaffer, Sachin Tendulkar, V.V.S. Laxman, Mahendra Singh Dhoni -, Sourav Ganguly, Yuvraj Singh, Dinesh
Karthick, Zaheer Khan, Vikram Raj Vir Singh, Munaf Patel, Rudra Pratap Singh, Anil Kumble, Ramesh Powar and Rajesh Pawar
Bangladesh: Habibul Bashar -, Mohammad Ashraful -, Javed Omer, Shahriar Nafees, Shakibul Hasan, Rajin Saleh, Tushar Imran, Khaled Mashud -, Mohammed Rafique, Enamul Haque -, Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, Shahadat Hossain, Syed Rasel and Mehrab Hossain -
Umpires: Daryl Harper - and Billy Doctrove
TV umpire: Enamul Hoque Moni -
Reserve umpire: Jahangir Alam -
Match referee: Roshan Mahanama -
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